A WOMAN has spoken of her shock after her suitcase got her kicked off a flight.
Clare Vertannes was approached by a flight attendant as she waited for her Jetstar flight from Sydney to Perth to take off in April.
Initially thought she was being upgraded to first class, but quickly realised that wasn't the case.
She told News.com.au: “I was sitting there minding my own business, and then she was like: ‘Can you please come with me?’
“I was getting really excited because it genuinely didn’t cross my mind [that I was about to get kicked off the plane].
"It wasn’t until we walked off the plane, that I started asking questions.”
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Once she and the flight attendant were on the tarmac, Ms Vertannes was told that staff had found a “very dangerous item” – a battery pack – in her checked luggage.
While portable chargers containing a lithium ion battery are banned from check-in baggage, Clare was certain she had not packed hers in her suitcase.
She said: “I held up my battery pack and told them I didn’t have a second one.
“The flight attendants that kicked me off the plane were really rude. I understand they have jobs to do but they didn’t even give me the time of day to explain.
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“I asked them to call someone to confirm because there was nothing in my suitcase but I was told to go to baggage claim.”
Clare was then also told she would miss her existing flight and would have to pay for the next one.
She claims the flight attendant told her she wouldn’t be reimbursed because she'd "held up everyone on the current flight”.
However, on her way to baggage claim, Ms Vertannes claims to have overheard a staff member on the phone saying she shouldn't have been kicked off the flight.
She said: “She was like: ‘Why would she do that? What’s wrong with you people? I told you to wait for confirmation.'
“She then saw us walking towards her she just stopped and said into the phone: ‘I think the lady you’ve kicked off is in front of me and she is not impressed.’”
That’s when she was told that there had been “a miscommunication”.
While airport staff claimed to have found something dangerous in her bag, it turned out to be a false alarm.
Clare said: “There was nothing in my suitcase. I was actually hoping that there had been something wrong with my luggage, especially after all this drama.
“I said look: ‘Thank you for your apology but I need to get home. Can I get back on my flight now?’”
Why could a battery pack get you kicked off plane?
Clare Vertannes' bag turned out not to contain anylithium ion batteries, but airlines have strict rules on how they are allowed onboard planes.
Aviation Expert Patrick Smith from Ask The Pilot explains why having portable battery packs in checked-in luggage is dangerous.
He told Sun Online Travel: "If a fire was to occur in the lower hold then crew people on board won’t have an understanding of what is happening or how fast it’s spreading.
“Holds are equipped with fire suppressant systems but these systems aren’t always effective against those types of fires.
“There’s been a movement in the last few years to restrict the number of batteries that have been shipped on planes.
“They’re now banned on commercial planes."
Batteries in cabin bags are also problematic, becoming such an issue that Ryanair now warns passengers about the dangers of battery-operated items as part of their pre-flight safety announcement.
Passengers are being asked to inform flight attendants if their device overheats, or is lost in the seats.
It is thought that the new message is now a more important part of the pre-flight briefing than the part about life jackets, with the buoyancy aids only used in extreme circumstances.
With overheating devices potentially causing fires on board, they are seen as more of an immediate threat than landing in water.
The Civil Aviation Authority, who are responsible for flight safety in the UK, has warned of the risk posed by counterfeit batteries before, saying they pose a "significant risk to flight safety".
However, in the time Ms Vertannes had reported to baggage claim, her original flight had taken off. She was then told the next flight wouldn’t be until the next day.
Clare said the airline initially refused to pay for another flight that day, but she insisted she would be flying back to Perth.
After what she claims was “an hour or two”, she was approached by a Qantas staff member, who are the parent company for Jetstar, and offered a flight for that day at 8pm, free of charge.
In a statement to news.com.au, Jetsar said they “sincerely apologise for any misunderstanding and are looking into what took place”.
It took four months of time for Ms Vertannes to be ready to talk about her flight.
She said: “When I got back I genuinely needed to recover from the trauma."
Sharing her experience on TikTok, Clare amassed more than 67,100 views, 5100 likes and 285 comments.
She has since has been given a $116.22 (£64.87) cash refund and a $350.76 (£200.96) voucher as compensation, which Jetstar says aligns with the purchase methods used to buy her flight from Jetstar to Qantas.
This article was originally published on News.com.au and has been reproduced with permission.
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